Italy Research: The Children’s Gap Weighs on the Lives of Large Families

For 84 percent of households, accessing credit to purchase a home is impossible. Extra costs and zero protections increase feelings of being discriminated against.

By Avvenire

Eighty-four out of every 100 “large families” see access to home loans as a real nightmare. But before that, they complain of significant difficulties in finding sufficiently cozy housing, even to rent. This is what emerges from research promoted by the political observatory of Associazione Nazionale Famiglie Numerose (ANFN), the association that has been gathering and giving voice to large families in Italy since 2004. “The Constitution, in Article 31,” comments Alfredo Caltabiano, national president of ANFN, “asks the state to pay “special attention” to large families. But extra-large families in Italy, as our research shows, do not feel sufficiently helped and, indeed, in many cases feel discriminated against.”

The qualitative research involved 1,360 families with a total of 5,848 people. And it offers significant insights for the upcoming Ad Hoc Bill on large families – linked to the Nadef – whose discussion will begin its process soon. Parents of large families tell the peculiar dynamics of a family with at least three children, where needs inevitably multiply, often underestimated or completely ignored by politics and business. In a kind of “children’s gap” that certainly “disincentivizes young couples from bringing new children into the world.” Many of the fathers and mothers interviewed, observed by Emanuela Quarantotto Gasparo and Carmine Gnazzo, editors of the report, “complain of difficulties in accessing the labor market and the latitude of work/family reconciliation policies. For the same reason, they complain of professional career difficulties, so that, to the already well-known phenomenon of the ‘gender gap’ (at the same job a woman earns, on average, 30 percent less than a man), there is a further penalization for those mothers and fathers of large offspring who, after the single allowance and deductions for children over ’21, earn less than those who do not have children. They are unable to save money on insurance (and indeed, “the higher costs of free driving on cars go on forever”). Nor do they feel sufficiently represented by politics, despite “representing” a high number of constituents who, in fact, have no voice until they come of age: “hence our 20-year battle for ‘One Child, One Vote,'” comments Paolo Moroni, director of the ANFN political observatory.

What are the demands made by large families? In first place is the demand for a reduction in taxes, according to the principle that the citizen’s contribution should not only be vertical, but also horizontal. “After all,” observes Paolo Moroni, “Article 53 of the Constitution speaks clearly: ‘Everyone is required to contribute to public expenses according to his or her ability to contribute. And the ability to contribute for large families is severely compromised.” “In this sense, we think it would be useful to adopt the family quotient, on the French model,” Caltabiano observes, “or, even better, the Family Factor proposed by the Forum of Family Associations, which recognizes a no-tax area for the costs of raising each child. But the large families surveyed also ask for concessions or free school books for children above the first. Discounts on cultural offers and vacations, on cars with 7 or more seats, which are on the market at “unattainable” prices: “this is why we are asking for the revival of the “family card” expired in 2021, and which is having so much success in France, Spain and Poland.”

And then the request for facilities on access to pensions: it is a “battle ” of ANFN for the request for imputed contribution years for mothers of large offspring. And access even for non-drivers by profession to the D/D1 license needed by dads and moms who have to put eight or more members on board. At the same time, however, families dream of a major cultural effort to recount not only the difficulties, but also the “beauty” of raising many: in short, notes President Claudia Caltabiano, ” we don’t want to be described simply as social cases” but, if anything, to “as models of resilience who have thrown their hearts over the hurdle and are helping to reduce the effects of the demographic winter.”

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